For my birthday this past year my wife and kids bought me a Kindle Fire. I have always enjoyed reading but this was an awesome experience. I started looking for children’s e-books that I could read to my kids at bedtime. What I found bothered me. The established author’s eBooks had an equivalent reading experience to their printed work but were priced very high (IMO), and new/self-published children’s e-books all had issues. The self-published e-books I looked at suffered from one or more of the following issues:
1. Not written well
2. The illustrations were poorly done
3. The formatting for the Kindle Fire was awful (depending on how you held the device the content would completely shift and change the reading experience.)
4. The books were not available in print
5. The cost of the e-book was too high, especially considering the issues mentioned above.
So to try and make a difference I decided that I would create and publish children’s books (in print and for Kindle Fire) that did not suffer from any of the above issues. I just wasn’t sure what my books would be about.
While visiting my brother’s family in Syracuse my sister in law told me a story about their youngest son (my godson). The story went like this. Several of days before my visit the town was doing some road work on their street. There was a dump truck and Bobcat (Skid Steer) out in front of their house. My godson wouldn’t leave the screen door. One of the workers took the dump truck and left the other worker there with the Bobcat. The worker that stayed behind noticed my godson glued to the door watching them work. Since he had some time he let my godson come outside and get a close up look at the Bobcat and talked with him for about a half hour. Needless to say my godson was in his glory, and this got me thinking about kids that love construction vehicles but don’t get to experience them up close and in person. After about 2 hours of careful consideration I came up with the “Let’s Look at” concept, where I would pick a subject (in this case a construction vehicle) and write a book that provides an up-close and educational look at a Bulldozer or Excavator, etc.
So you may ask what "qualifies" me to complete a project like this. Well my short answer is "this isn’t my first rodeo" (it’s my second). I learned quite a bit during production on my Bulldozer book. After it was completed I saw several areas of “opportunity” where I could really make the next book better. So the main challenge for me is a personal one. And that is to make this book more engaging and visually interesting for all readers.
Here is a sample of me adding visual interest by showing movement.
National education standards are shifting the reading curriculum from fiction stories to non-fiction books. My “Let’s Look at” books take non-fiction subjects and present them in an up-close and educational way. Children benefit more if they develop a love of reading early on. If they don’t it could negatively impact their performance in school and their self-esteem. I feel that anyone (especially kids) should be able to pick up a book (or e-reader) and know what to expect, if an e-book experience is bad (and a print book is not available) how good can the experience be for someone, and the likelihood of them wanting to try another book could very well start to decline.
Risks and challenges
Getting enough images to fill a 32 page book (due to availability and weather) is a big challenge. I will not use an image twice in a book. I have some images but always need more. I am constantly keeping my eye out for active construction sites that are using equipment I want to shoot.
Getting permission can also be a potential challenge, I did not have issues on the bulldozer book, but anything can happen.
Another challenge is writing the content so it is informative and educational but not stale and manual like, or making sure it doesn’t go too far the other way and sound condescending to the reader. It is a delicate balance that I have far from mastered.
Marketing is my greatest challenge. I am constantly researching and finding new and better ways to let people know my books exist. Additional funds in this area would help.
Also there were several costs I didn’t anticipate when I did my first book like, Copyright fees, editing costs, digital conversion etc.
• You get to dedicate the book to whomever you want and write a short dedication* to that person. (will be printed in every copy)
• 2 Poster prints of your favorite page (or 2 page spread) Maximum poster size 20X30
• 3 Hard copies of Let’s Look at Excavators! (signed by author, if desired)
• 3 Hard copies of Let’s Look at a Bulldozer! (signed by author, if desired)
• and pdfs and e-books mentioned above
*Dedication must not be vulgar or obscene and will be reviewed by the author before publication